Monday, September 20, 2010

Bridgetown Part 1

I have already mentioned Bridgetown and its origins in an earlier blog but as the capital of Barbados it is only fitting that I post at least one blog dedicated to this city that dates back to over 380 years

For it was on the 5th of July 1628 that 64 settlers headed by Charles Wolverstone arrived. The location of Bridgetown was one of convenience as this was found to be the most suitable place for a port. Its swampy lands however made it a place many considered ill for ones health by many visitors. in spite of these opinions building after building was erected and the town spread itself out on the land around it.

The name Bridgetown of coarse came from what came to be known as the "Indian Bridge:" this was a bridge that had been constructed by the early inhabitants of the island, the Amerindians. In very early deeds the town is referred to as "The Indian Bridge", "The Indian Bridgetown" or simply just "The Bridge".

Around 1660 the town came to be called "St Michaels Town"  and also "Doncaster". The name Doncaster was after the Earl of Carlisle

The principle streets in Bridgetown were originally laid out by John Swan and in keeping with tradition Swan street was named after him. For those of you who know Swan Street today you will know Swan Street is full of local color. The street runs parallel to Broad Street which is the main street (see its description bellow)
The streets are now made of brick and lined with large plant pots.
The street is also line the streets and can be often heard with shouting the sales pitches such as "Oranges two for one get your oranges 2 for one" Or T-Shirts sold here every colour, buy 2 and get one free". Fruit, clothes, shoes, perfumes, CD's & DVD's  its all there and that is just on the street. The stores of themselves Cary many of the same items and if you take your time visiting each store you can save yourself a few bucks.

Broad Street was original named Broad Street as it was the broadest street in the town. In fact it still is the broadest street in Bridgetown. The street was once part of Cheapside because it was part of the Market and later in the 17th century referred to as "The Exchange Street"  because the merchants exchange was there.

Broad Street is also the main street which passes right through the centre of the city. It passes by The Parliament buildings and is the definite centre of the capital's shopping area.

Today Broad Street is where you will not only find the island's largest department stores, shopping malls and duty free shops but also banks and business offices. This is where you will do most of your duty free shopping in Barbados
In the early years the streets in town were ill kept and in 1656 legislature passed and act where persons not keeping the space in front of their property clean could be fined 100 pounds of sugar for each day of noncompliance.

In 1657 many of the streets that had before gone unnamed were finally given names. Many of these streets have since disappeared often due to fire but there are a few left.

In 1654 Bridgetown's population was roughly 2,000 and it contained more than 100 drinking houses. This meant the ration was one drinking house to 20 citizens. This was seen to constitute a moral or social danger and so steps were taken to suppress all unlicensed drinking houses and to confiscate licences held by persons considered unfit to hold them. Thomas Walduck who lived in Barbados in the earlier 18th century was probably not  far off from the truth when he jokingly asserted that the first institution the English established in a new colony was a drinking house. The Spaniards and Church and the Dutch a fort.

The Bridgetown settlers erected a Church in 1630 It was a small wooden building and could accomodate no more than 100 persons In 1660 this building was found inadequate and in 1665 a larger one that was built of stone was completed. By the 19th century the population of Bridgetown had risen to 20,000 and the first Bishop of Barbados Bishop Coleridge recognized the need for an additional church in the town. in 1827 the St Marys Church was completed.first Bishop

Lakes Folly
At the rear of St Marys church lies the district of  Lakes Folly. On the5th of March 1773 a gang called the "True Blue Gang"  12 armed men in number marched forth from this area and went on a rampage through town assaulting everyone they met. They killed two people and seriously wounded a third.seriously
On the night before their escapade they gathered together and formed an association and took an oath to stand by one another to death. To seal this unholy bond they punctured their arms with a  shoemaker awl letting 3 drops of blood each fall into a bowl of gun powder, brimstone and rum. they then each drank dome of this evil ridden potion
The Town Constable was given a special warrant and a posse went after the gang in their lair. One was shot and badley injured while the other 11 were arrested and sent to trial.

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